Drawing Interpretive Conclusions

Two links:
First, a connection at Boing Boing pointed to Clarence Larkin’s marvelous (if theologically debatable) charts illustrating the principles of dispensationalist biblical interpretation. I’m wondering whether it might not make a good assignment or exam question to ask students to explain problematic aspects of these charts, or to design alternatives.
Second, Bibliodyssey pointed to blockbook illustrations of the Book of Revelation. This, too, would make a useful assignment; compare the illustrations with what you read in Revelation, and come to class prepared to discuss the congruence (or the discontinuity) of the illustrations with what your text suggests.
(Cross-posted at Beautiful Theology)

3 thoughts on “Drawing Interpretive Conclusions

  1. I was about to ask if you disapproved, in theory, people making that sort of visual interpretive device, but then I noticed you used the word “marvelous”.

    I grew up with those sorts of charts (and that sort of dispensationalism), moved on to postmillenialism in college and now into some sort of amillilenial agnosticism (just in relation to eschatology), so I had something of a grudge leftover against dispensationalism. But I think you are right to point out that it can be quite right to try to illustrate the scriptures.

    On that subject, ever since my Greek prof pointed it out to me, I’ve always been a bit curious about Galatians 3:1 and what Paul was referring to when he said Christ was “portrayed” for them. Did Paul use Power Point?

  2. No, Paul, I’m enchanted by this kind of illustrative diagramming. I dissent from both the particular presuppositions of the dispensationalist theology Larkin propounds and the premise that any schema could represent a definitive or exhaustive clarification of how we should interpret the Bible (or Joyce’s Ulysses, or whatever).

    That being said, I find such diagrammatic gestures as this
    Schematic diagram of the Holy Trinity


    Representation of the Trinity made by arraying three rabbits' heads such that each has two ears, but the image illustrates only three ears shared among them

    utterly enchanting.
    I’ve certainly mulled over exactly what Paul had done (“O foolish Galatians, who did bewitch you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was openly set forth crucified?” — we might translate “Christ was depicted” or “Christ was displayed” or “Christ was illustrated as crucified”). Some first-century equivalent of PowerPoint seems to have been in view, but what software and hardware did he deploy, and how did he depict Christ crucified?

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